About Jim Bamboulis
Jim Bamboulis has held several posts over the past 12 years, including National Sportscaster, Food Host and Writer, Talk Show Host, Olympic Researcher and Travel Film-maker.
Born and raised in Toronto, Jim learned early on that the combination of travel and food meant ultimate living. Combining his insatiable creative spirit and desire to document his travels, Jim took his unshakable travel bug and set off to explore. Add the fact that Jim also grew up in a Greek household and he learned that not only does Mom always make the best meals, but as importantly learned the importance of understanding and appreciating the countless beautiful cultures and the integral role food plays in every corner of the World.
In August 2009, Jim founded Travel Mammal, a site that brings together his travels and experiences (both good and terrifying) with the hope that others are inspired to share their own. We are all storytellers, especially when it comes to travel and food. He urges everyone to be inspired, explore and love the world and the people that share it with us. Or in other words, Live to Travel and travel to live!
Latest Posts by Jim Bamboulis
Ah yes November. Not officially winter yet but it’s starting to feel like it with every passing day. And if you live in many parts of the US and Canada these days, the Polar Apocalypse as I like to call it (Polar Vortex sounds too…weak), you may think it’s the middle of January already.
The good news is, it’s not mid-January. The bad news is…well see previous paragraph. The colors are still vivid but it’s only a matter of time in Toronto before we’ll get hit with ice and snow on a regular basis.
Before the cold made its way to Toronto, we were lucky enough to have one last day of beautiful weather. And by beautiful I mean 17C (or about 63 degrees Fahrenheit), sunny skies and a lovely, comfortable breeze. Seems like ages ago.
I did what any warm weather loving Torontonian would do on a day like that. I went outside. I headed to the Toronto Islands.
Great in the summer but as I found out, many parts of the Islands are just stunning and naturally beautiful in Autumn. Take a look at the pictures below to give you a better idea of what I mean. Information about the islands and how to get there are at the bottom.
By: Jennifer Renaud I was in Jamaica the first time that I ever went ziplining. I’d been sent there on video assignment to shoot bikini models on the beach (yes I know – my job sucks), which somehow detoured into sailing through the canopy with fifty thousand dollars worth of camera gear strapped to my […]
I have always been curious and enamoured with the American West. The mystical southwest in particular. The first time there was an awesome experience. To see and breathe it, imagine what it looked like 200, 100 and even 50 years earlier. It is a great opportunity to reflect and enjoy the rugged, graceful scenery. It was now time to go to the Grand Canyon, or at well, see it at least….from the air.
It took us 4 hours to reach the Grand Canyon. Awe-struck by the sheer beauty and size. Now from the air. By helicopter.
A road trip is one thing but seeing it from above is something else.
There are several tour companies that offer trips by helicopter from Vegas to the GC. Do your research and pick the itinerary that is right for you.
The right one for us?
We wanted to not only fly over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Grand Canyon….but we wanted to descend into the Grand Canyon as well. And that’s what we did….with a few added memorable moments thrown in.
Just thrilling. Getting a bird’s eye view of one of the worlds most stunning natural wonders. Landing 4000 feet below the rim and being surrounded by the Canyon itself, overlooking the Colorado River, to be embraced by millions of years of natural history and evolution.
After having the chance to walk around and take it in, it was time for a small lunch that included champagne.
In a matter of 4 1/2 hours, we got picked up at our hotel, shuttled to the airport, got our helicopter training, boarded, flew over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead en route to the Grand Canyon, had our champagne lunch at the base and flew back to Vegas.
Left me speechless again.
Is the Grand Canyon on your list of must-experience? Have questions about itineraries or tips on how to see the Grand Canyon in a different way? Share the love and happy travels!Tips:
*These itineraries get booked up fast. If you’re thinking about doing this, try to book as far in advance before your trip as possible.
*This trip is one of the more pricier options. You’re looking at anywhere between $300-$500 per person depending on season.
*If you haven’t been in a helicopter before, bring gravol just in case.
Nuit Blanche is an annual art festival that takes place in various cities around the world, including Toronto. It starts at sunset and finishes up at sunrise. Over one million people flood the streets and take in the various exhibits scattered throughout the downtown. This is what it looked like on Queen Street West this year.
Over the years, the festival itself has been great and other years, boring. Last year, dry. This year, fun and inspiring. People enjoyed themselves and the energy was great.One of the exhibits that really made it for me was the Global Rainbow.
Created by Yvette Mattern, it consists of a ‘high specification laser light projection beaming in parallel horizontal lines creating a natural perspective horizon arc simulating a natural rainbow arc with a trajectory of up to 60 km’.
It wasn’t projecting that far but it can be seen from virtually any point in downtown Toronto. Three people supervise the installation from the top of a parking lot in Kensington Market, about 2km NNW of the CN Tower and watch as curious onlookers set up tripods and selfies with what is considered to be a symbol of peace and hope.
It’s a great display because it’s not every day that streaming lasers are beamed across two points in the Toronto skyline. And the symbolism rocks.
Luckily, this exhibit continued long after the festival ended. Great news for those of us who wanted a second look and a chance to get some good shots without the crowds getting in the way.
Got a favourite Nuit Blanche exhibit? Share the love.
Words like ‘overrated’, ‘hyped up’ and ‘tourist trap’ have all been used to describe the Lagoon itself and the experience you get.
It’s true that visiting and dipping into the sometimes scolding hot thermal pool will cost you a tad more than in previous years and yes it’s man-made after all. And how awesome is it to see loads of tour buses arriving throughout the day with fully dressed wannabe photographers standing around, taking pictures while you’ve got your calm on, body soaking, breathing in the crisp Iceland air?
Not so much, I understand.
The Blue Lagoon is one of those experiences that if you don’t do it, you’ll be questioned and judged by those who did do it and yada yada yada. Sure, it can get annoying to see loads of tourists arriving but everyone is generally pretty civil and there to have a great time. Prices have gone up everywhere and yes including at the Blue Lagoon but that shouldn’t stop you either.
Truth is, the Blue Lagoon is a must-do if you’re a first timer. And to make it more enticing for you, it’s conveniently and strategically situated between the airport and downtown Reykjavik.
You can rent a car and hit the road but if renting isn’t for you, then be aware that buses are the only way to get anywhere. The good news is that the buses make it easy for you to get to and from any major site, including between KEF and Reykjavik with an optional stopover at the Lagoon.
Although many people usually hit the Blue Lagoon on their way to the airport, at the end of their vacation, I decided to visit as soon as I landed. After all, this was a dream of mine for several years and to put it off was a crazy thought.
As for the experience itself?
Fantastic. Loved it!
It was an incredible feeling and lived up to my expectations. I saw pics of this place years ago, dreaming of the day when I would be lounging in the water, on the western edge of the island country, eastern edge of the North American tectonic plate, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, having a drink in the pool (there’s a swim up bar available) and looking around taking in the scenery and terrain of what could pass as the surface of the moon itself.
But would I do it again? Probably not.
Iceland is loaded with thermal pools that are frequented by locals both in Reykjavik and outdoors throughout the rest of the country that are just as phenomenal. At those pools, I imagine it’s more of a cultural experience than a tourist, ‘must-do’ experience. Next time, I will explore those and build on experiencing a more local flavour, more of what this spectacular country has to offer.
But for my first time in Iceland, this was a great time and one that you should consider doing for yourself.
Have you been to the Blue Lagoon? Got tips?
Iceland has a stunning, rugged beauty.
It’s not sexy in a California, PCH, palm trees kind of way. But it’s sexy in a northern, middle of the Atlantic Ocean, hugging the Arctic circle, chilly wind, if-you-can’t-take-the-adventure-then-get-of-the-kitchen, kind of way.
Driving through South Iceland is driving though a small piece of rocky, jagged, icy heaven.
On a recent trip to the Land of Fire and Ice, I ventured along Iceland’s infamous Route 1. At just over 1,300 km (800 miles) long, it goes full circle around this amazing country. Hence why it’s called the Ring Road. If you were to drive this straight, it would take you about 16 hours. But to do it properly, stopping along the way and taking in the sights will take you about two weeks.
I didn’t have that long but there’s no way I was going to miss seeing the mountains, ocean, waterfalls and glaciers for myself. The route I took was along the southern coast.
Reykjavik to Vik. This is what I saw.
Mt. Eyjafjallajokull (above and below)
On the road to Vik, the southernmost point of the country. The terrain here became even rockier, towering, more jagged and out of this world.
Been to South Iceland? Share your experiences and share the love.
I recently sat down with Hrönn Marinósdóttir, the very busy Festival Director for the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF).
We talked about film in Iceland, the humble beginnings of RIFF, the obstacles the festival has faced, the unique ways film goers can watch a film here (it involves swimming pools and caves)and of course, where the festival goes from here. I thank Hrönn for taking time out of our day to spend some time.
If you love venturing to off-the-beaten-path adventures sprinkled with culture, then RIFF is for you.
While they may not be in full color change mode just yet, thousands of trees around Toronto are starting to look pretty awesome so it’s hard to miss the miraculous changes going on. Here are a few pics I snapped walking around the east end of the city as well as midtown.